Tarot Tuesday: The Tower


The Tower from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck

I said last week that this card reminds me of 9-11. I’m sure you can guess why. And you can see for yourself that the Tower is a card of catastrophic loss. A loss that never completely heals.

This card is much older than 9-11, of course. It’s probably based on the story of the Tower of Babel: a tale from Genesis about human hubris. It’s a curious little story that, to me, is a little too detached to be as painful as it should be. By contrast, this card is immediate and vivid—and it sends a clear message of sudden destruction and death.

That said, the Tarot deck—especially this one—isn’t ultimately concerned with biblical or current events. It’s concerned with the soul, as seen through the lens of Hermeticism. And Hermeticism draws from a wild combination of different traditional and mystical paths. (Notice all those golden sparks—twenty-two of them in all? That’s the Hebrew letter Yod, which has all sorts of Kabbalistic meanings.)

If this is a card about the soul, then it might not be about a real life tragedy, much less a physical building. It might be about the false face we construct to show the world. We create a version of ourselves that we want other people to believe in, even if it’s not who we really are. Until catastrophe strikes, that is, and that false face crumbles under the pressure.

So how will you use this card as a writer? Will you take it at face value, subjecting your main character to a shocking loss that he might never recover from? (And maybe not just your main character—a card like The Tower should probably affect all the characters in your story.)

Or will you use this card to—well, shatter your main character’s soul? To break apart the vision of herself that she’s constructed, forcing her to dig deeper and find a truer version of herself?

Is there a way to do both? Can the same lightning bolt shock your character into both grief and authenticity?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And if the card inspires a meta or story from you, please leave the link in the comments!

And now for next week’s card: the Knight of Cups.

About Jenn Moss

Author * Web Serialist * Virtual Addict
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2 Responses to Tarot Tuesday: The Tower

  1. Quintessential Editor says:

    I love the imagery on this card. I mean it’s horrible and all of that, but the content is very interesting. I really enjoy you breaking down the card and offering all the background details. I never would have known (or noticed) those twenty two golden sparks if you wouldn’t have mentioned it.

    Personally, and in my writing, I can see how this card forces us to consider some deeper emotional contexts. One thing I enjoy about Wastelander is that everyone has the face they wear, but deep down, they all are hiding who they truly are. The wasteland isn’t a place where you can, “be yourself.” You have to invent of version of yourself that will allow you to survive and adapt. Like you mentioned though, the application of conflict can shake the foundations of even the best made facade.

    This is an awesome addition to the listing you are creating, Jenn. Hopefully it doesn’t take me a week to get around to commenting on the Knight of Cups!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenn Moss says:

      Glad this card worked for you, Corey!

      Hmmm. When I think of this aspect of Wastelander, I think of Maslow’s heirarchy of needs. Physiological needs and safety needs come first. So when you’re scraping for sustenance and shelter and doing your damnedest each day not to get killed, you might not have the time or the tools to discover your authentic self.

      I’m curious to see, though, what kind of facades people construct in your world–and how well they’ll serve if a Tower-like event happens. Like you said, it’s all in the application of conflict!

      Liked by 1 person

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